There’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Penguins need some forward help on their top two lines. General manager Jim Rutherford has made it clear that any additions will come through a trade and not unrestricted free agency.
One interesting name that has been mentioned is the disgruntled forward on the Carolina Hurricanes, Alexander Semin.
He has played two seasons of his five-year, $35 million dollar contract that carries an annual cap hit of $7 million per season. Rutherford actually signed Semin to that contract while he was still with Carolina and knows him very well.
Upon singing, it looked to be a great value for the franchise as he was a point-per-game player during the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season. 2013-2014 was a bit underwhelming for the magnitude of the contract that Semin was signed to and 2014-2015 was a disaster for the 31-year old forward.
He routinely was a healthy scratch for the Hurricanes and at one point was actually sent to their AHL club — in a similar fashion to the Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards.
Semin appeared in 57 games and produced just 19 points (6-13-19). However, some of this can be attributed to his career-low shooting percentage and a supporting cast that was lacking, to say the least.
The Hurricanes were a bad hockey team last season and not having Jordan Staal available for much of the season certainly did not help them at all. So would Semin be a fit with the Penguins? That depends.
What are the Pens willing to give up to acquire him and how much of his salary is Carolina willing to retain?
If they want center Brandon Sutter back, the Penguins should not make the trade. He’s entering the second year of a two-year, $6.6 million contract. The Penguins have very few trade assets and Sutter is one of their best options. They shouldn’t trade him unless it’s part of a deal to bring a quality top-six wing back.
At this point, Semin isn’t a very high quality top-six winger. He has an enormous amount of talent, but has been inconsistent and thought of as being temperamental. But would coming to the Penguins be a good move for Semin and Pittsburgh? If Carolina retains close to 50 percent of his salary and is not looking for a huge return, why not?
Star center Evgeni Malkin has never really played with another Russian forward and there are rumors that he would welcome the notion. Could Semin replicate the production he had with the Washington Capitals? It’s very likely he could.
Playing with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom put him in a great position to be successful and Malkin is a much better center than Backstrom.
The bottom line is that Semin at $3.5 million (on the Penguins cap) is a great value. Playing with Malkin is an instant upgrade from anyone in Carolina and Semin bounce back to a point-per-game player.
Should the Penguins pursue Semin? It certainly looks to be a good idea, but like it was previously mentioned Rutherford knows him and signed him to that contract. Only time will tell if Rutherford would actually be willing to reacquire Semin, but at least on paper, it looks to be a pretty good move.